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Shelbyville salutatorian chooses Indiana University to study Biology

Unable to fill a full schedule of classes his junior year, Nolen Chaney had a decision to make for one final class – Classical Literature or Genetics.

“I had a gap in my schedule my junior year … they couldn’t get me into all the classes I signed up for and the only classes available in the spot they couldn’t get me in was Classical Literature or a Genetics class,” explained the Shelbyville High School Class of 2022 salutatorian. “I took the Genetics class and it was really interesting to me. So I figured out that is what I wanted to do.”

Chaney will attend Indiana University in the fall and major in Biology with a Genetics educational track in his future.

“My sophomore year I can start taking areas of specialization,” said Chaney. “I want to go into Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics. I want to get into a master’s program in Genetics.”

The decision to forgo Classical Literature was not a difficult decision. Chaney was advanced into a Biology class in seventh grade and quickly found his area of interest.              

“It was my favorite class,” he said. “The Biology class I took in high school just confirmed that.”

Chaney finished ranked No. 2 in his graduating class behind Stefanie Howard and one spot ahead of Braydon Povinelli, who will be his roommate at IU.

With the class ranking finalized, Chaney earned a speaking role at Shelbyville’s graduation ceremony.



“It went better than I thought it was going to go,” he said. “I’m pretty nervous talking in front of a bunch of people. At the podium, I was shaking the whole time. My speech was two pages long and when I went to change the page, my hands were shaking.”

Chaney is much calmer on the golf course where he carded a personal-best round of 39 last month at Blue Bear Golf Club on Senior Night.

“A goal of mine had always been to break 40 in a 9-hole match,” he said. “I had done it in practice a few times this year. On Senior Night, I shot the lowest score of my high school career.”

Chaney will take the golf clubs with him to IU where 2021 SHS valedictorian and former Golden Bear golfer Ethan Apsley is awaiting his arrival. The duo have already discussed introducing Povinelli, the 2021 state chess champion, to the sport.

While at Shelbyville, the son of George and Malia Chaney also was involved in Quiz League, Spanish Club and National Honor Society. Chaney also was named an Academic All-State golfer this past season.

Chaney and Apsley have a summer of golfing at courses they’ve not played planned around Chaney working in the pro shop at Blue Bear Golf Club in Shelbyville.

“Ethan is always calling me up and saying, ‘You want to go play golf here?” said Chaney with a smile.

Chaney narrowed his college choices down to IU and Notre Dame.

“IU has a great science program so it was a pretty easy choice to go to IU,” he said.

And while only about 90 minutes away from home, Chaney knows he will miss his hometown.

“My favorite thing about Shelbyville is the people,” he said. “I really enjoyed my time here. I think that is what I will miss the most … the people.”

(This is the seventh in a 10-part series highlighting the Class of 2022 valedictorians and salutatorians from the five Shelby County high schools.)